This document in Norwegian EFNs logo



The civil rights movement Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN) notes that Økokrim (The National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime in Norway), after two years of investigation, has brought charges against Jon Lech Johansen in the 'DVD case'. Økokrim's leader Inger Marie Sunde claims to the Norwegian News Agency NTB that public interest necessitates indictment in this case.

EFN declares that this prosecution is opposed to public interest and contributes to undermining and erasing fundamental consumer rights. The authorities are uncritically giving in to lobbying from and a shortsighted and unchecked self-interest of American film and entertainment industry giants.

Jon Johansen, in collaboration with others, made a program (DeCSS) which allows anyone to play a DVD-disc on computers which have open operating systems such as Linux installed. DeCSS circumvents a software access control mechanism called CSS, which is incorporated in most DVDs. The essence in the DeCSS case is that CSS restricts playback, and not copying. So in fact, CSS bars a consumer from playing a legally obtained DVD disc in a player of choice. These kinds of restrictions on playback not only reduce the value of the DVD disc to the consumer, they also erase the right to watch a DVD where, when and how a consumer wants to.

CSS does not restrict the copying of DVDs, and can therefore not be seen as a protection against unauthorized copying/piracy. Piracy can be done with or without (bypassing) CSS. However, American film and entertainment industry giants have contrived, via intense lobbying, to get laws passed which have made it illegal to circumvent all types of digital restrictions (software-based obstructions) on digital content. These digital restrictions are user access blocks that apply to playback as well as copying. This way, the consumer's right to choose playback equipment, and the right to produce copies for personal use, has effectively been outlawed. This is no different than a law restricting, for example, the right to copy music from a CD to an audio tape for use in one's car or at work, or to create an audio tape with one's own selection of music.

Unfortunately, there is a dangerous trend involving all types of digital media and content whereby all carrier products of digital content (such as DVDs, CDs, E-books, and others) are encumbered with different types of user access restrictions which severely impede or eliminate the user's ability to play back as well as copy. The reason or impetus for this trend is the film and entertainment industry giants's unchecked craving for shortsighted economic gain by forcing consumers to (1) buy playback equipment at inflated prices (cheaper competing products are forced out of the market by the digital access restrictions, thus establishing an artificial monopoly) and (2) buy many separate copies of the same work (one for the home, one for the car, one for the workplace, one for the cell phone...).

EFN affirms that the indictment against Jon Lech Johansen is alarming and hostile to all consumer interests. A ruling against Johansen would imply a criminalization of normal and fundamental consumer rights. A victory for Jon Johansen, however, would be a victory for all consumers, and a step in the right direction towards restoring consumer rights and interests. Jon Johansen is innocent and must be found not guilty and be given full redress.

EFN Press Contacts:

Bjørn Remseth (EFN president)
Cell phone: +47 9134 1332

Knut Yrvin (EFN member of the board)
Phone: +47 2232 0202

The address of this document:

EFN is a Norwegian civil liberties organization working to protect and promote freedom of expression, privacy, the use of open media formats on the net, public access to online resources and information, and open standards for IT infrastructures. Inspired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the USA, EFN was founded January 19, 1995.

Last updated by   Thomas Gramstad    March 10   2002.

Support the Blue Ribbon Campaign for Free Speech! Best Viewed With Any Browser Valid XHTML 1.0! Frames Free! Ribbon Campaign Created with GNU Emacs - a GNU and better computer for you